On a weekend or casual day off I will often wear a denim shirt. They have are a unique blend of the smartness of shirting and the casual, easy to wear quality of denim. However there are two main types of denim shirt, and I have both in my capsule wardrobe. The first is the clean, minimal style, like Acne Studio’s classic Isherwood shirt. The second is the cowboy, Western yoked style which nowadays has resonances with Hedi Slimane’s work at Saint Laurent. Both designs are extremely wearable and look fantastic with contrasting trousers or jeans. Here I have styled both with minimal shoes (derbies and sneakers) and black skinny jeans. You can also go for a more obvious ‘double denim’ look, which rounds off the 3 outfits showcased. I also finish the article by giving some jewellery that I think would enrich these three denim shirt ensembles.
The simple style
This is a super easy look to pull off. The denim shirt is the obvious focal point of the outfit, because the quality and fit of the skinny jeans and Common Projects sneakers let it shine. I am wearing a long sleeve t-shirt underneath for warmth. This layering means that the shirt can be unbuttoned and worn open part way or completely. The buttoned up styling is a smarter skew; open gives a more laid-back feeling. So denim shirts are versatile in terms of their design but also how they can be worn. You could also tuck the shirt in, perhaps with a belt, which would also increase the formality.
This ASOS denim shirt is a long-term resident of my capsule. This ‘simple’ style and the way I am wearing it emphasizes the minimal aesthetic. This means it can be worn with a clean jacket style like a wool blazer or a classic bomber. Or for an alternative style, you could wear a shirt like this open over a printed t-shirt. I personally would recommend a camouflage or Breton stripe. This would lower the formality of the outfit of course but also increase your options.
This look reflects a Scandinavian take on how to wear and style denim. Contemporary companies like Acne Studios and Nudie are as important as the O.G. and streetwear American and Japanese denim companies in terms of influence.
I absolutely love wearing this look. I have casually tucked the denim shirt, and have 3 of the press stud fastenings open over a lovely black t-shirt. The subtle distressing on the sleeves and cuffs give the shirt a vintage look. Both the t-shirt and shirt are by Topman, which I would recommend for a lower budget. The press studs have a faux mother of pearl detail which makes the item look more expensive than it is. The shirt tuck and the low waist of the Nudie Tight Long John jeans really elongate my inseam (which is a short or regular length depending on the trousers). This could benefit from a belt but it is not necessary as I hope the picture shows.
About the footwear, I used to wear smart shoes as often as I could, particularly styles like brogues and derbies (the latter used here). These smart shoes by British make Loake have a tough rubber commando sole, which make them super practical and wearable. Brogues etc. became super popular a few years ago when a new generation of men online began to care about their appearance. The problem is that these smart shoes tend to have leather soles, which are stupidly slippery in the wet. I had to walk home once through snow and ice wearing leather-soled dress boots and it was terrifying. This led me to seriously rethink what footwear I should purchase, such as trainers / sneakers. So when I found these super smart, high shine derbies on eBay a few years ago I fell in love. Nowadays there seems to be more shoes on the market with practical soles.
Double (blue) denim
All three of these looks are technically ‘double denim’, which can be a bit of a faux pas. I doubt there’s anyone who would deny that black jeans work super well with a blue denim shirt.
Personally I think there is enough of a contrast between the really light wash of the shirt and the rinsed twill denim of the jeans (by Nudie, again). This avoids the “Canadian Tuxedo” stereotype where it’s like a suit made of denim. The denim shirt did begin as a working garmen: back when I was particularly into the ‘workwear’ aesthetic, I started to appreciate them. The gist behind workwear is dressing like a mid-century, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning-era, working class man. This translates into bombproof fabrics like thick cottons and hardwearing denim (often raw or selvedge).
Here though I have continued my usual relaxed look with a very well-loved pair of blue jeans. I draw attention from how the denim shirt and jeans tone together with a ultra comfy American Apparel heather grey cotton t-shirt and Common Projects white sneakers. I often think about contrast whenever I am putting together an outfit and this is a case of it. All of these items are things you can throw on, though, and not put a huge amount of thought into.
Now for some accessories…
To broaden the conversation away from pieces I own I am beginning to include alternatives or recommendations for what I think would work well. So here’s some jewellery, something all three looks lack. It is an area I have thought about getting into but don’t want to dip my toe just yet. Friends of mine who love to wear it highly recommend these two companies below, though, and I can see why. I haven’t chosen any rings, as I think a necklace is where I would start. The silver/platinum look is what I personally prefer, because like wearing grey items of clothing, it is muted compared to louder materials/colours like gold.
Silver Chain Mini Swallow Necklace by WERKSTATT MÜNCHEN at Antonioli.eu.
Items from my minimaldrobe:
Shirts and tees by Asos and Topman
Jeans by H&M and Nudie
Shoes by Loake and Common Projects